Monday, August 31, 2009

The Gift Of An Extra Year

I recently sent my two older children back off to preschool- a new preschool this year. And, this year, I had a decision to make.

Back in Indiana, September 1st was the birthday cut-off for determining what grade a child would go into. Thus, my two children- though both born in 2005- were in two different grades.

I live in Connecticut now and the rules have changed. The cut-off here is December 31st. This means my January '05 baby and December '05 baby could be in the same class. They could both be in the 4-year old program.

Truth? It would make my life easier They would both be in school in the afternoons, five days a week. I would have some time alone with just my infant...

Tempting? Maybe a tad. But I honestly never considered doing it.

My little girl SHOULD have been born in April of 2006. Chronologically, she'll be 4 on Christmas Eve. But really? She shouldn't have been born that soon. She's still small, weighing in at barely 27 pounds. She still has some language delays and communication challenges. Does she belong in a class with my almost 4 foot tall, 48 pound son? No way. And, really, would they both thrive and make friends as well if they were in there together? Not a chance. Trust me- I watched them at the open house and you know who they chose to play with? Each other. Now, that warms a mama's heart, sure. But I want to see them socialize with other children and learn to play with non-siblings too!

And so, when asked if I wanted to enroll them in class together, I politely declined.

I was thrilled when their teacher agreed.

"We call it the gift of an extra year," she said, referring to those "late in the year" babies.

It's a gift I'm delighted to give my little girl.

I think, as parents, we all need to think long and hard as we decide in what grade we should place these fall/early winter babies. I've seen people send their kids early for many reasons... to "get ahead" or to save money on child care probably top the list. I've also seen people hold their children- usually boys- back so they'll be "big for sports". I don't think these are good reasons. I think we all need to really examine our individual children, weigh their strengths, consider their needs, and then make the decision... not based on our convenience or preference but on what will be best for our precious kiddos.

Today, as I juggle my revolving door of preschoolers- C. goes in the morning, A. goes in the afternoon, I'm feeling grateful. Grateful for the gift of an extra year.
This post is linked to Gratituesday, hosted by Heavenly Homemakers.


Bloggin' Mama said...

I probably would have made the same decision had I been in your shoes! It just makes sense for the 'right' reasons.

My mom held my youngest brother back a year even though he made the September 1 cut-off (his bday is in early August). She held him because he wasn't ready for school yet and giving him that extra year has helped him tremendously.

I think sometimes parents are actually doing their child a disservice intelectually for their own selfish reasons. It's great to hear someone putting the child's needs first!!

Amy @ Finer Things said...

You're striking a chord over here. In KS, the deadline is Sept. 1. My boy is an August baby. I'm a teacher by "training..." NO WAY is my child going to kindergarten when he just turns 5 next summer.

The GIFT of an extra year is right!

And by the way... I get super cranky at people who think public schools are there for the sole purpose of free daycare. Gag.

Ashley said...

I totally agree! I'm from near Indy and the cut-off is 8/1 here. Even though my son's birthday is 7/21 we will hold him to give him the gift of the extra year. I just can't imagine that 10 days makes him suddenly ready.

Oh, and my daughter (a former 34-wkr) had her 4 yr apt yesterday. She weighs 29 lbs - a huge growth over the 24.5 she was last year. We were thrilled!